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How to pass down a family's business legacy

For family-owned businesses, issues of succession form the center of all estate planning efforts. The manner in which a business is handed down differs for every family, and there is no such thing as a one-size fits-all legacy solution. When addressing the issue, Michigan families should take the time to sit down with their loved ones and discuss the matter at length.

The first thing to consider is whether any of the children are willing and able to take on ownership of the business once the parent or parents are deceased. In cases in which one or more children do not have an interest in being involved in the business, the estate plan becomes far more complicated. Because parents usually want to leave their children equal inheritances, a degree of number-crunching is in order.

Will you leave your ex an unexpected inheritance?

For many Michigan residents, the primary purpose of estate planning is to ensure that their loved ones are looked after, and that assets are passed down in the manner of one's choosing. This process rarely includes making provisions for a former spouse. Even so, many people will unexpectedly leave their ex husbands or wives an inheritance. At the same time, those loved ones who were intended to receive that wealth might be shocked to find that they have very little chance of reversing that outcome.

This scenario occurs when there is a difference between what is laid out within an individual's will and what is stated within certain account documents. When an investment, savings or life insurance account contains a designated beneficiary, that person will receive the assets held within the account or policy at the time of death. This is true regardless of what is stated within one's estate planning documents.

Residential real estate deals in Michigan need legal protection

A residential real estate transaction is a legal process that follows the same basic procedures as any other legal contract. Regardless of whether a residential real estate deal is for a primary home or a vacation home, the contract needs to be reviewed and examined by a legal professional, as the provisions contained within are legally binding. Without legal protection, a potential Michigan homeowner or seller could open the door to disputes or minimize his or her own legal protections should something within the deal go awry.

A residential real estate attorney can draft a purchase agreement for the protection of all involved. Also, residential real estate professionals can assist with the closing process, and can review closing documents for errors or omissions, as well as explain the contents to the client. Real estate disputes can be costly, and problems can postpone the closing timeline for any transaction.

Michigan residents should understand benefits of a will

Regardless of the size of an estate or anyone's age, having a will drafted is a smart and vital part of being an adult. Many people put off the process of creating a will out of fear or trepidation of thinking about the inevitable. However, every adult in Michigan should understand the benefits of having a will in place long before that will is ever needed.

Most people know a will states who will receive certain assets from your estate, but a will also designates guardians for minor children. This is not a decision most people want left up to anyone else. Without a will in place, the probate stage of processing an estate can impact where minor children end up and how they will be cared for. Not having a will in place to explicitly decide these matters also increases the likelihood of family disputes, even further lengthening the probate stage.

Landlord/tenant dispute gets heated as gas is shut off

Renters expect their landlords will provide a safe and peaceful place for them to live. When there is a landlord/tenant dispute, tenants may feel there is no other way to protect their rights as a group. Renters in Michigan and elsewhere who feel their landlord has violated their rights or intimidated them into leaving can pursue legal means of protecting themselves as a group. They can also file suit individually if needed.

The case making news in another state relates to an apartment building that some residents have lived in for decades. According to the tenants, a new landlord has threatened to call immigration and is trying to force out certain residents. Because of the landlord's alleged harassment, residents of nine apartments are suing.

Making an estate plan in steps can simplify the process

The task of creating a comprehensive estate plan can be overwhelming and confusing for some. Breaking up the creation of an estate plan into steps is recommended as a way to tackle the process and ensure it is done correctly. Similarly, it is important for Michigan families to weed out steps that may not apply to them and focus on those steps that do.

A will is perhaps the most basic and essential document that should be a part of an estate plan. However, another document that all individuals should consider is a living trust. A living trust can be a way to distribute assets to heirs directly without the heirs having to face the public probate process.

Location of chimney touches of potential real estate litigation

In urban areas where buildings are in close proximity, shared space or attached elements of a building may be a source of contention or even possibly a legal dispute between building owners. For one pair of building owners in another state, the location, condition and purpose of a newly discovered chimney has caused some strife. Shared urban spaces in Michigan could also be a source of possible contention between building owners, and that contention could even lead to real estate litigation between property owners.

The strife began as a chimney was discovered under stucco, attached to a 71-unit co-op in the city. Upon further investigation, the chimney was attached to one building but also attached to a boiler for the adjacent building. Neither building owner was aware of the purpose or existence of the chimney. The discovery of the chimney led to the discovery of much needed repairs to the structure, repairs that were required by the building codes in the city.

Will challenge unfolds after politician's mom passes

While the importance of drafting a will can't be overstated, there are incidents where the presence of a will does nothing to stop family disputes from unfolding after a death. This can be true especially between children after the death of a parent in Michigan. A recent will challenge is making news as the former mayor of the nation's capital is caught up in a family dispute after the death of his mother.

The mother died at the age of 87. She had a will drafted 10 years before her passing. She had eight children who are now fighting in court over details of the will.

Single Michigan residents should consider estate plan needs

Some people may wrongfully assume the estate planning process is for families with children or couples with valuable assets to divvy up or protect for the other party's future. Everyone, particularly single Michigan residents, needs to ensure that a proper and well-thought-out estate plan is in place as soon as possible. Single people may be at a greater risk of seeing assets distributed in a manner in which they would not approve.

According to law, when one spouse dies, most property and assets typically get passed on to the other spouse. This occurs even when there is no will or formal estate plan. When a single person without children dies without any plan in place, assets may be given to the next closest relative. This may be parents or siblings. Without a will, the single person simply has no say in how this process unfolds.

Dramatic rent increase results in landlord/tenant dispute

Rental amounts can naturally be a point of contention for landlords and tenants. When an agreement is reached and a lease signed, there are rarely disagreements that lead to legal intervention. However, when one party feels the other has acted unfairly, a landlord/tenant dispute can erupt and lead to the necessity of legal intervention. Michigan renters and landlords may want to follow the story of a woman who posted the details of a rent dispute on a social network, drawing both sympathy and scorn.

The woman had rented a two-bedroom apartment for roughly 10 years. She was in a rent-controlled place and paid $2,145 a month for rent. Unexpectedly, the woman received notice of a staggering and, in her opinion, unfair rent increase. The notice listed the new rent for the same apartment as $8,900 a month with mention of an increase in the security deposit listed as $12,500. While the notice said that the high security deposit was monthly, it is believed that may have been an error in the notice.

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